In my first week as president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, I quickly realized that there are stories from the Central community that need to be heard—not just by me but by all who love and are committed to the seminary. To share those stories with you I will “interview” students, alums, faculty, staff, board members, and supporters, and each week will share an interview with you on this new blog titled THIS IS CENTRAL. I look forward to getting to know this community, and I invite you to join me on the journey.

Today's interview is with Debbie Buchholz, a Doctor of Ministry student at Central.

PD: Debbie, tell me your Central origin story. What led you to study at Central?

DB: I am currently enrolled at Central in the D.Min. program. I am at the end of my second year and looking forward to beginning my dissertation in January. I found out about Central when I became affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA back in 2010. Before having my ordination recognized by American Baptists, I was required to take an ABC polity class under Dr.Robert Johnson, and I fell in love with the seminary, faculty, and classes that are offered there.

PD: Share with me briefly your call story—how has God been at work in your life, calling you to ministry and service?

In my early twenties, I had plans and dreams of becoming a psychologist for the deaf, living in a hi-rise condo in New York, never getting married and not having children. But God obviously had different plans. I have been a pastor for twenty-six years, live in a house, am married, have seven children, and six granddaughters. I came from a conservative background and had said "no" to my call for about three years, but the call was so strong that here I am. I would not trade any of this, and have truly enjoyed this journey.

PD: What have been the best resources and experiences you have had in your time at Central?

DB: Sometimes I think about all those years I should have pursued my D.Min., but the timing was never right. I am so very thankful that I am in this program at Central right now at this time. Timing can be everything in so many situations. The timing for me right now is incredible.

Since this pandemic hit, I have had to hold worship services, teach Bible studies, teach at our refugee classes, and conduct meetings via Zoom. I first experienced Zoom while in classes at Central. But the biggest impact for me is this D.Min. program. I know that I would not have been able to carry our church and organization through this pandemic without the classes I am taking, the professors who are teaching, and the books we are reading. They all have been valuable tools for me and our ministries. The last two classes during this pandemic were exactly what I needed to be prepared and equipped. All of the books, required assignments, and lectures were all applicable to what I needed to do in order to make the necessary changes in meeting the needs of so many deaf people within our ministries. I am so thankful for Central and all they have done to help me through this time.

PD: As you move ahead, what are your hopes with regard to ministry and service? Where is the Spirit leading you?

DB: I am a pastor of a large deaf congregation, and I am also the co-founder and co-director of an organization called Deaf International, which supports the Deaf International Community Church, works with deaf refugees in providing education, advocacy, and assistance with their citizenship process, and provides food, hygiene products, and clothing. It is not an easy ministry as the needs are plentiful but the workers are few. It is my dream that we someday have a building of our own, where we can house all of our ministries in one place. A building that the deaf community could call their own is what I would love to leave behind.  I would also love to plant a seminary for the deaf somewhere, as this is greatly needed as well.

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